I am not a fan of summer. Not in any way, shape, or form. Especially not summer when we didn’t have rain for two weeks, then a flood for five days, and now we have no rain and temperatures hovering at 100 degrees. I have a little mantra for this situation: I do not live in Ukraine. My home and family aren’t being bombed daily. I don’t have any serious illnesses that I know of. I have AC and food for all the critters I love. I have excellent friends I can count on. My car works. (More later on what DOESN’T work!) My animals are as healthy as they can be with age and conditions. My house is a safe haven. Timothy Olyphant is back on JUSTIFIED!
Let me explain my July whining. The 4th is always a hard holiday for people with livestock and other animals with issues of loud sounds and lights. I have several dogs and cats that freak out, but I have a horse that has seizures. The exploding lights in the sky and the noises can panic her into a seizure. I gave both of the horses a hefty dose of Banamine to relax them but my neighbors—who have been told of the horse’s condition—shot off fireworks for several hours. The horses were panicked, sweating, and heaving in the heat. They could have run through a fence, colicked, or died of a heart attack from the panic. You cannot put a panicking animal in a stall and not expect disaster, so I could not confine them. My friend Mandy Haynes and I stayed at the barn and hosed them off repeatedly, calming them as best we could. I had to drug some of the dogs, too. One cat that I couldn’t get in was missing for several days but is back. This is completely unnecessary. There are free fireworks displays all over the place. There are soundless fireworks which would help so much. Go to a public display. Have fun. Enjoy the pretty lights fired off by a professional. Keep your fingers and eyes. And leave me and my animals the hell alone!
So that started a crappy month, and then my camphor tree was hit by lightning. It is right beside my house. I will not even go into the damage wrought by Zeus with his lightning bolt (and what the heck did I ever do to Zeus?) The good news is that everything is getting fixed. It’s hard in the summer when it is so hot and so many are suffering and nothing works! But I am dealing with it and striving for good humor while I do. Mandy has helped me put things to right. And thanks to my friends Tommy Beech, Mark, and David. They’re on the repair detail. Ugh.
Mandy and I are making good progress on GUARDIAN, the thriller we are writing together. It is set in 1970 and allows me to revisit small town Alabama (not a hill of beans difference from Mississippi or Tennessee) at a time when things were very difference for women. In 1970 I was a young woman (barely) and preparing to go to college. When I graduated in 1974, I went to buy a car. Uh, they wanted my dad to co-sign even though I had a job lined up when I returned from backpacking through northern Europe. I was so insulted. I got a credit card AND a car loan, but I had to fight for both. In 1970, I envisioned a completely different life than the one I am leading today. It’s interesting to go back in my memory and dig around at some of this. Sometimes painful and sometimes joyful. At the end of our time here, I do think the only thing that matters is the connection we build with people and animals and nature.
So what’s going on in Writer Land. I’m working on TENDER BONES, the 2024 Christmas book with Sarah Booth and the Zinnia gang in Tupelo, MS for an Elvis impersonator competition. A bejeweled and expensive Elvis belt, a work of art as well as a tribute to The King, is stolen. Tinkie and Sarah Booth are on the case. This book has allowed me to really dig into the Elvis myth. I remember clearly that I was riding horses with my friend Gloria on the day Elvis died. Donna Cowart came riding to find us in the woods to tell me. It was a terrible shock. He was such a young man and he’d been always there, in the background, of my coming of age. Now, listening to his music, reading about him, bringing him to life in my imagination, is an emotional experience. And just let me say, watch out for Jitty. She is badass in this book!
I’ll tell you more about Guardian at a later date. It’s very much the kind of book I love to read and write. I’m excited about the possibilities. And Mandy is a hard-working and talented writer to team up with. She publishes Well Read Magazine which is a terrific place to learn about new books and authors (and it is free to readers) and a terrific place to advertise for authors. Well Read accepts short-short fiction submissions and poetry and if you’d like to interview an authors and have a great focus for an article, just let Mandy know at firstname.lastname@example.org
TELL-TALE BONES got a warm reception from reviewers and readers and made several best seller lists. As y’all know, I love Edgar Allan Poe, so that book was so much fun to write. And to add Poe, the raven, to Sarah Booth’s growing menagerie of pets.
So not a lot of news this month, other than whining about lightning and heat. I dream of October! You guys kick back with a highball, a good book, and an AC or fan and enjoy the last days of July and the arrival of August.
Uh-oh. Take a look at this plate of tomatoes and cucumbers—the bounty of summer. I’ll quit whining now and dig in!
Some music—a little different from my normal selections—but it was a helluva summer hit: When Doves Cry.
Until next month—Carolyn and the critters!